The Theory of Plate Tectonics
Chapter 14 Lesson 3
p510-519
Vocabulary
• Plate tectonics (511) – Earth’s surface is made of rigid slabs of rock, or
plates, that move with respect to ...
The Plate Tectonic Theory
• Earth’s crust is constantly being created and
destroyed
• The theory of plate tectonics states...
Tectonic Plates
Tectonic Plates
• The Pacific Plate is the largest plate
• The Juan de Fuca is one of the smallest
• The boundaries that r...
Plate Boundaries
Convergent
Convergent
Divergent Plate Boundaries
• Mid-ocean ridges are located
along divergent plate boundaries.
• A divergent plate boundary f...
Transform Plate Boundaries
• A transform plate boundary
forms where two plates slide
past each other.
– The San Andrews Fa...
San Andreas Fault
Convergent Plant Boundaries
• Convergent plate
boundaries form where
two plates collide
• The denser plate sinks
below the...
• When an oceanic plate and
continental plate collide the
denser oceanic plate subducts
under the edge of the
continent
• ...
• When two
continental plates
collide, neither
plate is subducted.
• Instead rock is
uplifted and create
mountains like th...
Evidence for Plate Tectonics
• Continents move apart or come together at speeds of a few
centimeters per years
• Today sci...
• All types of plate boundaries can result in
earthquakes due to the rapid release of energy
• Diverging and converging pl...
Plate Motion
• Convection Currents
– Convection is the circulation of material caused by
differences in temperature and de...
• Tectonic plate activity is related to convection in the mantle.
• Radio active elements heat Earth’s interior.
• When ma...
FORCES CAUSING PLATE MOTION
Scientists are still uncertain about which force has the
greatest influence
Forces Causing Plate Motion
• Basal Drag
– This is when convection currents in the
asthenosphere move or drag the lithosph...
Ridge Push
• Recall that mid-ocean ridges have greater elevation than the
surrounding seafloor.
• Because they are higher,...
Slab Pull
• When plates converge, the denser plate will sink into
the mantel along a subduction zone
• This plate is calle...
A Theory in Progress
• Plate tectonics has become the unifying
theory of geology
• It explains the connection between
cont...
Unanswered Questions
• Several questions remain unanswered:
– Why is Earth the only planet in the solar system
that has pl...
Chapter 14.3: The Theory of Plate Tectonics
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Chapter 14.3: The Theory of Plate Tectonics

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8th Grade Integrated Science chapter 14 lesson 3 on the theory of plate tectonics. This lesson covers plate boundaries and the effects of the movement. It includes pictures and definitions of divergent, convergent, transform, collision, and subduction boundaries. There is an explanation of the lithosphere and the asthenosphere including convection currents. This also introduces forces causing plate motion such as basal drag, ridge push, and slab pull.

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Chapter 14.3: The Theory of Plate Tectonics

  1. 1. The Theory of Plate Tectonics Chapter 14 Lesson 3 p510-519
  2. 2. Vocabulary • Plate tectonics (511) – Earth’s surface is made of rigid slabs of rock, or plates, that move with respect to each other • Lithosphere (512) – the cold and rigid outermost rock layer • Divergent plate boundary (513) – forms where two plates separate • Transform plate boundary (513) – Forms where two plates slide past each other • Convergent Plate Boundary (513) – form where two plates collide • Subduction (513) – A process in which the denser plate sinks below the more buoyant plate • Convection (516) – the circulation of material caused by differences in temperature • Ridge Push (517) – the forces that causes rising mantle material at mid- ocean ridges that creates the potential for plates to move away from the ridges • Slab Pull (517) – As a slab sinks, it pulls on the rest of the plate with this force
  3. 3. The Plate Tectonic Theory • Earth’s crust is constantly being created and destroyed • The theory of plate tectonics states that Earth’s surface is made of rigid slabs of rock, or plates, that move with respect to each other • Each plate moves over Earth’s hot and semi- plastic mantle – The term tectonic describes the forces that shape Earth’s surface and the resulting rock structures – Plate tectonics is used to explain earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
  4. 4. Tectonic Plates
  5. 5. Tectonic Plates • The Pacific Plate is the largest plate • The Juan de Fuca is one of the smallest • The boundaries that run through oceans mark the positions of the mid-ocean ridges • Earth’s outermost layers are cold and rigid compared to the layers in Earth’s interior. It is called the lithosphere. – It is made up of the crust and the solid, uppermost mantle – It is thin below ocean ridges and thick below continents – The tectonic plates are just large pieces of the lithosphere • Just below the lithosphere is called the asthenosphere. – This layer is so hot that it behaves like a plastic material – This enables to lithosphere to move
  6. 6. Plate Boundaries Convergent Convergent
  7. 7. Divergent Plate Boundaries • Mid-ocean ridges are located along divergent plate boundaries. • A divergent plate boundary forms where two plates separate • When the seafloor spreads at a mid-ocean ridge, lava erupts, cools, and forms new oceanic crust. • Divergent plate boundaries can also exist in the middle of a continent – They pull continents apart and form rift valleys – The East African Rift is an example.
  8. 8. Transform Plate Boundaries • A transform plate boundary forms where two plates slide past each other. – The San Andrews Fault in California is a well known example. – As the plates move past each other, they can get stuck and stop moving, – Stress builds up where the plates are stuck. – Eventually the stress is too great and the rocks break – The resulting rapid energy release is an earthquake.
  9. 9. San Andreas Fault
  10. 10. Convergent Plant Boundaries • Convergent plate boundaries form where two plates collide • The denser plate sinks below the more buoyant plate in a process called subduction – The area where a denser plate descends into Earth is called a subduction zone.
  11. 11. • When an oceanic plate and continental plate collide the denser oceanic plate subducts under the edge of the continent • This creates a deep ocean trench • A line of volcanoes forms above the subducting plate on the edge of the continent • This process can also happen with two oceanic plates. – Typically the older, denser plate will subduct beneath the younger plate. – This creates a deep ocean trench and a line of volcanoes called an island arc
  12. 12. • When two continental plates collide, neither plate is subducted. • Instead rock is uplifted and create mountains like the Himalayas
  13. 13. Evidence for Plate Tectonics • Continents move apart or come together at speeds of a few centimeters per years • Today scientists use a network of satellites called the Global Positioning System (GPS) to measure the movement of the plates • The theory of plate tectonics explains why earthquakes and volcanoes occur in certain places
  14. 14. • All types of plate boundaries can result in earthquakes due to the rapid release of energy • Diverging and converging plates result in volcanoes • Mountains form when two continental plates converge
  15. 15. Plate Motion • Convection Currents – Convection is the circulation of material caused by differences in temperature and density • For example, the upstairs floors of most houses often warmer than the lower floor • This is because warm air rises while denser, cold air sinks.
  16. 16. • Tectonic plate activity is related to convection in the mantle. • Radio active elements heat Earth’s interior. • When materials such as solid rock are heated, they expand and become less dense • Hot mantle material rises upward and comes in contact with Earth’s crust • Thermal energy is transferred to the surface • As the mantle cools, it becomes denser and then sinks, forming a convection current • These currents in the asthenosphere act like a conveyor belt moving the lithosphere
  17. 17. FORCES CAUSING PLATE MOTION Scientists are still uncertain about which force has the greatest influence
  18. 18. Forces Causing Plate Motion • Basal Drag – This is when convection currents in the asthenosphere move or drag the lithosphere much like how walking sidewalks at the airport move people.
  19. 19. Ridge Push • Recall that mid-ocean ridges have greater elevation than the surrounding seafloor. • Because they are higher, gravity pulls the surrounding rock down and away from the ridge • Rising mantle material at mid-ocean ridges creates the potential for plates to move away from the ridge with a force called ridge push. – This moves the lithosphere away from the mid-ocean ridge.
  20. 20. Slab Pull • When plates converge, the denser plate will sink into the mantel along a subduction zone • This plate is called a slab. It is usually old and cold which makes it denser. • As a slab sinks, it pulls on the rest of the plate with a force called slab pull.
  21. 21. A Theory in Progress • Plate tectonics has become the unifying theory of geology • It explains the connection between continental drift and the formation and destruction of crust along plate boundaries. • It also helps to explain the occurrence of earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountains
  22. 22. Unanswered Questions • Several questions remain unanswered: – Why is Earth the only planet in the solar system that has plate tectonic activity? – Why do some earthquakes and volcanoes occur far away from plate boundaries? • Part of the answer has to do with plate thickness. The other part is the scientists are still learning how active the mantle really is. – What forces dominate plate motion?
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